As told from the voice of a Bikeshare bike, who we’ll call “Anthony”.
Thank you for selecting me. I know that because of the popularity of the bikeshare program, my being selected isn’t something incredible, but I appreciate it nonetheless. Be sure you raise or lower my seat to allow for you the best comfortability – that is if you’re actually riding me or one of my fellow bikes for this tour.
Kenny told me you were going to walk this tour with him, so we’ll make adjustments with each other for our journey which is set to be a bit longer since you’re on foot. I have wheels. Advantage mine. Before we undock, take a moment; get your bearings. This sidewalk is a nice location.
We are at a crossroads of sorts. The main drag that separates the Katzen Center from the rest of the main campus here at American. When you go up the incline a few paces, you’ll note a slight bump and the narrowing of the sidewalk. This can be iffy to navigate sometimes as a bike because some on foot don’t always heed the room we actually need. This is a moment when my bell comes in handy.
Look to your left and right as we approach Ward Circle. Do you see them? You should. There should be at least one student milling about here or there. If not, well, then we’re lucky because that means we have the entire sidewalk to ourselves – easy traveling; however, if you do, take note of them. They are just as important to this journey as we are ourselves. Kenny usually navigates one of us on the sidewalk while going round this portion of the circle which has adventure up ahead in the form of the black tar sidewalk.
Y’know in other parts of the city, they use this material that’s like rubber but looks of grey stone so that the roots of the trees next to the sidewalk can grow unfettered, and this allows your walk to be without uneven pavement. No accidental tripping or stumbling. I’d recommend it here, but I don’t necessarily know to whom to make such a request. My wheels are sturdy, just like yours – your feet! – so no worries there. Just be mindful.
Now we take a pause here where Nebraska Avenue continues on next to the SIS building. Depending on the time of day this particular stop is either gratefully empty or kind of annoying full. I have to weave about the walkers, but again that’s a part of what makes this journey so fun, so interesting.
Disney’s Pocahontas once sang, “You know one thing I like about rivers is you can’t step in the same river twice. The water’s always changing always flowing.”
I feel that way about this section of Massachusetts Avenue. You see, where we shall be traveling is not like “traditional” Mass Avenue (as the locals call it); this is not grand historic embassy row, the part of the city that once housed [insert historical details here]. No, this is what I like to refer to as the beginning of the Furtherance of Mass Avenue. It’s not the world’s movers and shakers that shape this part of this long artery of Washington DC. It’s you and me. It’s us. It’s your fellow alums and mates and peers and the people that live in Foxhall and The Berkshire and the homes on the right.
— Sidebar—at this point in our journey I would normally be transitioning into the street lanes, while Kenny looked out for oncoming traffic. Usually you need to work up some good speed so that those mammoth vehicular monsters (also known as cars) give you the respect you deserve. – Sidebar complete –
Back to my main point. It’s the students, the professors, the commuters, the locals, the cars, the behemoths – okay buses – that make this section of Mass Avenue unique. It’s the sheer height and size of the trees lining the sidewalk, the great downward incline that gives us that go go go attitude that make this part of this avenue incredible. It’s different every time I travel it, but so familiar just the same.
This traffic light can be annoying because usually one of those modular coaches get stuck, and I have to weave my way through because, hey!, I’m a bike. Traffic light, shmaffic light sometimes. Don’t judge me!
We’re going to dip down some more and if you look to the left you’ll see a valley with a beautiful collection of forest. That’s also what’s incredible here. Forest just appears out of nothing. Out of nowhere. Washington’s Rock Creek park is one of the oldest National Parks in the U.S. It dates back to 1890. Down there are trails. Wondrous trails on foot. In the summer the air gets cooler here, fresher, invigorating – at least according to Kenny. That’s what he tells me.
Watch out if you’re riding one of us, here though! Here the manhole covers are sunken into the pavement more than usual. If you don’t hit them right, boom! Accident. You don’t want an accident, especially in a bus lane. Those bastions of steel and size would not be fun to connect with.
We should now be by the Massachusetts Apartments. This is a great spot to get out of the actual traffic when riding one of us. This is a strenuous uphill climb where runners, people with kids, with strollers, all kinds of obstacles milling about in the daytime like to linger. Usually you have to move into the grass. This is where you lower me to my lowest speed and take your time, use some effort, gather your breath, this climb uphill. On foot I’m sure it’s much easier. On one of us, work, no matter what.
To our left is Embassy Church, named so because of its location. So yeah, aptly named. If you check out their website, they’ll tell you that they see themselves as spreading their Christian message to the city and the world. On our left is Annunciation Catholic Church and school. Sometimes the school kids play out here and do this weird thing where they stare at passersby, their whole game, just stopping. Just ceasing, so they can watch you.
In the next block there’s some homes we travel by before we get to Wisconsin Ave. In that house there, with the blue door lives and old woman who tends her yard and garden. She’s nice. If you see her, say hi. She’s nice. Usually offers a smile or at least acknowledgment.
From here at Wisconsin Ave, Mass Ave dives down. We’ll see signs about the speed limit coming up. This is a point when I can hit my top speed. They made us so that we plateau at about 24 to 30mph. Our tour is almost over. We’re passing Bryce Park and we’ll end around 36th St right before Observatory Circle.
Well here’s why. Embassy Row gets its start here and that truly is another tour. It’s still a great trip. It’s great to fly down the avenue, wind whipping at you, weaving in and out of traffic, basically telling all the cars to naff off. Though going along with the embassies, traveling Embassy Row – that’s not our point. Not our purpose. Fun to do, but it gets away from us. The regulars, the people of the Furtherance. The bikes of the Furtherance. I’ve no problem with my Dupont Circle depot brethren, nor the people they serve including the movers and shakers and ambassadors to many countries in the world, but here we’re like native Washingtonians or at least people who function like that, who have more a part of the non-governmental, global, ambassadorial part. We’re just people who live here in a part of an artery that’s important, but ultimately not infamous – at least not for any particular reason. Not like the rest of Mass Ave. Let’s just be us.